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China Reacts To UK Cyber Sanctions

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London’s charges are baseless and malicious, Beijing has said

British claims about the alleged hacking of the UK Electoral Commission are false and groundless, the Chinese government said on Tuesday, responding to the announcement of sanctions against two of its nationals and a business in Wuhan.

London announced the sanctions against Zhao Guangzong and Ni Gaobin, as well as the Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Science and Technology Company Ltd, on Monday. According to the British government, they are linked to Advanced Persistent Threat Group 31 (APT31), supposedly a state-affiliated hacker outfit blamed for two cyber attacks on British voting.

“The UK’s hype-up of the so-called ‘Chinese cyber attacks’ without basis and the announcement of sanctions is outright political manipulation and malicious slander,” the Chinese embassy in London said. “We have no interest or need to meddle in the UK’s internal affairs.”

The embassy demanded the UK “immediately stop spreading false information” about China.

British evidence provided to Beijing about APT31 was “inadequate,” while the “relevant conclusions lack professionalism,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian told reporters on Tuesday, adding that China “will take necessary measures to safeguard our lawful rights and interests.”

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FILE PHOTO: New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) minister Judith Collins
New Zealand accuses China of hacking its parliament

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced the sanctions on Monday evening, accusing China of “attacks on our democracy” and vowing that such actions “will not be tolerated.”

London has alleged that APT31 was behind the cyber attacks on the UK Electoral Commission between August 2021 and October 2022, which accessed voter databases as well as sensitive emails of “control systems” and officials involved in six by-elections.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has accused the US of working to “compile and spread all kinds of disinformation about the threats posed by the so-called ‘Chinese hackers’,” using its allies from the ‘Five Eyes’ network – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.

New Zealand also claimed to have been targeted by a different group of Chinese hackers on Monday, while the US Department of Justice announced criminal charges against seven Chinese nationals – including the two named by the UK. The group allegedly tried to hack British and American nationals via “malicious emails” over a 14-year period.

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